Food Aid Hits 20-Year Low As Number Of ‘Critically Hungry’ People Increases, WFP Says

Global food aid is at a 20-year low even though the number of “critically hungry people” is expected to reach the highest level ever, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday, Reuters reports (9/16).

At a press conference, Josette Sheeran, executive director of WFP, said that for the first time in history, the number of hungry people would rise to 1.02 billion this year, according to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. WFP is facing a significant budget shortfall, Sheeran said, as it seeks to feed 108 million people in 2009, Bernama reports, adding that the “shortage means ration reductions and cuts in programs that provide a lifeline to the world’s hungriest people” (9/17). 

“WFP says it needs $6.67 billion in funds to help people around the world cope with rising food prices, droughts and conflicts, but it has only received $2.6 billion so far,” Al Jazeera writes in an article that includes a video interview with Sheeran about the global hunger crisis (Serra, 9/16).

In a press release, Sheeran said, “The double whammy of the financial crisis and the still record high food prices around the world is delivering a devastating blow. Throw in a storm, a drought and a conflict and you have a recipe for disaster.” She said the additional $3 billion needed represents “less than 0.01 percent of what was put on the table to stabilise the world financially.” At current funding levels, WFP will have to cut services in October, she said, citing Bangladesh, Kenya and Somalia as examples of where programs would have to be scaled back (9/16).

Several other media outlets reported on stories related to food security, hunger and malnutrition:

  • Xinhua/People’s Daily Online: “FAO: Hunger combat in L. America goes back” (9/17).
  • Reuters: “Powerhouse India lags China in nutrition goals” (Bhalla, 9/16).
  • BBC: “US curbs ‘behind WFP Somali cuts'” (Plaut, 9/16).

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